Owen Sound's First Town Council was created to develop the necessary infrastructure for a pioneer community to grow and prosper.
One hundred and forty-four years ago on Jan. 19, 1857, a momentous event occurred in Owen Sound.
That evening, as the snow fell on the tiny community in the Upper Canada hinterland, a group of men be could seen making their way along Bay Street toward the county building. Only a few days earlier Owen Sound had achieved the status of a town and these men were on their way to the first-ever town council meeting in the history of the community.
When all the new councillors arrived, the returning Officer Thomas Gordon, assumed the chair to 'begin the inaugural proceedings. The councillors, after swearing their oaths and presenting their qualifications, took their seats around the council table. The first representatives to govern the new town were Messrs. Gale, Stephens, Lunn, Creighton, Scott, Harrison, Carney, Snider, and Miller.
The first item on the agenda was the election of the mayor. On a motion by Mr. Gale, seconded by Mr. Harrison, Richard Carney was nominated and elected the first mayor in the new town of Owen Sound. Mr. Carney was sworn into office by John Frost and then assumed the chairmanship of the meeting.
The next item of business involved the nomination of Thomas Gordon as the Clerk of the corporation of the town of Owen Sound.
Mr. Scott then nominated William Miller to the position of reeve. Miller's responsibility in this position was to represent Owen Sound on Grey County Council. The first item of other business for the new council concerned a municipal building for the town meetings. The mayor and reeve were directed by the council to enter into negotiations with the County of Grey about using their building on a regular basis.
At the Feb. 2, -1857 meeting of Owen Sound town council a letter from Grey County was read into the minutes describing the terms by which the town could avail themselves of the use of the Grey County building for their meetings.
The county proposed that council meetings could be held on a weekly basis for an annual fee of 10 pounds. The town, however, would be required to provide its own firewood to heat the building during meetings and their own candles to light their meetings. As well, the town would have to pay the custodian for his time spent on the days Owen Sound council meetings were held.
At that first meeting, the new council also directed the clerk to purchase a book to record the business of the town and a map of Owen Sound.
From this first meeting on a snowy January evening more than 14 decades ago the political life and management of Owen Sound has grown in every way imaginable. But some would argue nothing would have been possible without the foresight, intuition and determination of the nine men who formed the first council in the new town of Owen Sound.
The information used in this article came from files held in the Grey County Archives.
A version of this article originally appeared in my Local History column in the Owen Sound Sun Times on January 26, 2001
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William Harrison, The Source of John Harrison's Grit: details the influence of John's father, William Harrison, on John and his siblings.
John Muir, the legendary naturalist, who promoted the idea of protected nature spaces, spent time in Ontario and I went to help find evidence of his stay in the Owen Sound area.
Black Clawson Kennedy: An Iconic Owen Sound Industry provided income for area residents and economic development for the community for almost 150 years.
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DC Taylor: Owen Sound Entrepreneur was not only progressive businessman, he was also an important contributor to the social and cultural fabric of his community.
Jimmy Grant was a high wire walker who was a fearless athlete who faced all challenges without a worry of the possible fatal consequences of his daredevil actions.
Newspapers hold a special place in the history of any community, and the Owen Sound Sun Times, and its predecessors, beginning with the Comet, are no exception.
Owen Sound Businesses: 1920s were owned and operated by families whose deep roots in the community and their efforts had created the backbone of the community and brought success to the port city.
Owen Sound's centennial celebrations in 1957 brought the community together for events such big name entertainers, sports competitions, street dances and much more in honour of the community's past and projecting the city's bright future.
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Owen Sound's First Town Council was created to develop the necessary infrastructure for a pioneer community to grow and prosper.
Owen Sound Tavern Bylaw (1857) tried to tackle the issue of monitoring taverns in the Upper Canadian pioneer wilderness.
Owen Sound's 1857 Bylaw: Dog Control illustrated how a pioneer town controlled dogs in the community, sometimes even using harsh measures.
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Owen Sound CPR Link began with a bang, suffered a setback, and ended with a whimper.
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Owen Sound 1920s: Optimism abounded in the port city as a new decade began, The town was becoming a city and the economic outlook seemed bright.
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Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 Owen Sound details life in the last wilderness in Upper Canada in the 1840s.
Pioneer Story of a Child in 1846 (Part 2) continues the memories of Elizabeth Byth as she encountered life in the Upper Canada wilderness that became Owen Sound.
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Ship arrivals meant full shelves in stores and larders as pioneers and shopkeepers eagerly awaited goods to fill their depleted necessities
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